Winds of Change

An article by Andrew Roberts for CASS magazine

So the credit crunch is eating away at the economy, with many feeling the pinch already and some having lost their jobs. Rather a glum scenario as it bites into the music business too, with the cost of instruments and reeds rising by roughly 30%. All manufacturers will be looking for ways to make savings, let’s hope they don’t compromise on the quality of their products too much, if they do we must all do something about it. Several companies have already made some big changes. Leblanc France no longer exists, all production has been transferred to the USA. Production of these clarinets will continue as the factory has been bought by Buffet. This is history repeating itself for those who recall the Boosey & Hawkes takeover of the aforementioned Buffet. Dog eat dog!

Everyone is looking to save money, so of instead throwing away your reeds why not make more of them work? Instead of replacing an ageing instrument perhaps having it properly overhauled is cheaper. Most instruments can be made to play far better with some well advised T.L.C. Advice on such matters has always been available through the CASS magazine and, as such, it represents excellent value for money, even in financially challenging times.

As time moves on, it seems to me that it is moving at an ever faster pace and pressures on time dictate the course of action necessary, some evaluation of commitments has to be considered and tough decisions made. It was a real pleasure for me to join the Board of the CASS two years ago and even more so to find myself in the Chair, quite literally! As they say tempus fugit and in the last two years developments in my professional and family life have made me look very carefully at my commitments.

As a result of this, I have decided to stand down from the Chairmanship this year. CASS needs to have someone actively able to lead it on to new pastures and I believe we have moved on since my appointment. The website is now clearly a success and will become an even more useful resource as more players use the forum to discuss all areas of our love, be it clarinet, saxophone or music. It is also a place for your voice to be heard if you would like to see changes or inclusions to the existing facilities that CASS has to offer, whether it is an event in your area or articles in the magazine.

Your voice is important and has become something of a feature in various parts of this magazine. If you want to make your point in print we now have a new section called Soap Box where members can make their views known, whilst making it clear that they are not necessarily the views of the Board, and hopefully stimulating further comment.

Following on from the successful Kneller Hall event, CASS is planning both annual and regional repeats to actively get players together to make music. Many options have been considered by the Board some of which have not reached fruition, but I can say that we are all striving to improve the quality of your membership. As part of those discussions we have to consider long term strategy and I believe this now moving along well.

I had a cunning plan to find the right successor to the Chairmanship, which involved finding a well-known and much respected figure head who has all the right connections to bring CASS further into both the European and World clarinet family.

Fortunately David Campbell has accepted the Board’s invitation and I am delighted to welcome him to the recently vacated Chair! I am sure that David needs no introduction to our membership and I believe he is an excellent choice for the Society and look forward to supporting him in its future work.

On the continuing positive note, Liverpool can look back on its year of culture with some pride and a long term future for the arts community. It was announced in December by the DCSF (Department for Children, Schools and Families that there will be an unprecedented investment in music education which has the power to change children’s lives through the new In Harmony project, where three areas in the UK (Liverpool, Norwich and London) will benefit from the £3m fund. The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic will be leading the project in West Everton along the lines of the Venezuelan El Sistema which produced the unique and vibrant performance of the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra at the 2007 BBC Proms. It seems there may be hope for the future if such worthwhile schemes are taken on by more and more authorities as it has proved an amazing social and musical success in South America. Vive la Musique!